Four months back Windies tormented Bangladesh with pace and bounce at home to claim a completely one-sided 2-0 victory in the five-day format. Now, as a payback the Tigers have produced and equally commanding performance, if not more, to achieve their maiden Test series triumph against the boys from the Caribbean on home soil.
The only difference is, this time slow bowlers have dominated proceedings on spin-friendly surfaces in Chattogram and Dhaka.
Coming into this series, Windies were always the underdogs. And with regular skipper Jason Holder missing due to an injury as well as Shannon Gabriel's suspension in the middle of the series, further reduced their chances. Still, considering their recent exposure to similar sort of conditions in India, the Windies were expected be much more competitive on this tour. In Tests, it was nothing but a meek surrender, especially from their batsmen as the hosts needed just 16 sessions to wrap up the two-match series.
There was hardly any denial regarding the conditions favouring the home team massively, as all the 40 Windies wickets across two Tests were taken by the spinners. In fact, in the entire series, Bangladesh bowled only four overs of pace. However, compared to the pitches they had produced against England and Australia in recent times, there was nothing extreme on this occasion. During the course of the two-match series, neither the ball had turned square from the first session on Day 1 nor there was any alarming uneven bounce. More than anything, it was the complete lack of application on part of their batting unit, especially the top-five, which resulted the Windies downfall.
In Chattogram the top-five Windies batsmen contributed only 132 in two innings, whereas at Mirpur it was just 60. On a couple of occasions out of four outings, they were five down before crossing the 50-run mark. In the second Test, within one hour of conceding 508 in the first innings, Windies were tottering at 29 for 5 on that same pitch courtesy to some poor shot selections. When they needed to be slightly more circumspect, some of the Windies top-order batters tried to be unnecessarily flashy. And no one can hardly blame the surface for what was a shambolic performance.
"Test cricket is a mental game; 500 on the board with the ball spinning on the first day, we could have had some talks," lamented the stand-in skipper Kraigg Brathwaite in his post-match press conference at Mirpur. "I played outside the line of a straight ball. Mentally we probably weren't there, especially yesterday [Day 2] when we lost five wickets quickly. We have to do better as batsmen, even myself. We can't consistently be 30 for three. We have to hold up our hand and do the job. Simple."
Unfortunately for the visitors, all their top-five batsmen – Brathwaite, Kieron Powell, Roston Chase, Sunil Ambris, Shai Hope – seemed like a fish out of water against Bangladeshi spinners as they struggled with their footwork and technique. Also, it was evident that they were confused with their approach at the crease, whether to be ultra-defensive or extra aggressive. And this indecisiveness took them nowhere.
Furthermore, they were guilty of repeating the same mistakes. For example, Powell got out stumped while stepping out of the crease against Shakib Al Hasan in the second innings of the first Test, had an identical dismissal against Mehidy Hasan at Mirpur as well. On both occasions, he missed the ball completely.
It was only Shimron Hetmyer, who with his counter-attacking approach made some impact in this series. In both the Test matches, this youngster from Guyana was the lone warrior with the bat for his team. In fact, barring his 222 runs in the series, wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich is the only Windies batman, who crossed the three-figure mark, scoring 108 runs in four innings. The next best is Jomel Warrican, who bats at No. 10, with 58 runs.
Brathwaite may have blamed the mental aspect for this thrashing, but following their back-to-back failures against Indian and Bangladeshi spinners, it seems some of the Windies batsmen need to polish their skills of handling quality spin on these sorts of slow-low surfaces prior to their next Test tour of the sub-continent. Their selectors and the team management are presently grooming a core group for the future and without a doubt, there is potential in this batting line-up. So, perhaps more exposure to these spin-friendly Asian pitches through 'A' tours will help these youngsters to acclimatise better next time around.